The alternative Countryfile interview.

On Sunday Countryfile sank lower than even I thought was possible with a hopeless piece about grouse moors. Here is the link and the piece starts at about 22 minutes into the programme.

Presumably, in the interests of BBC balance, Springwatch will be showing this image of how Mountain Hares are looked after on grouse moors in National Parks (look at the bodies in the back of the truck if you haven’t seen this image before)?

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The alternative interview could have gone like this:


Gnarled gamekeeper: Oh a Meadow Pipit!

Countryfile interviewer: Come off it, even I know they occur everywhere. That’s scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit isn’t it. I’m not a townie you know.

Gnarled gamekeeper: Oh! Well look – there’s a Red Grouse!

Countryfile interviewer: So it is! And on a grouse moor too. We’ve seen  lots of them but not much else so far.

Gnarled gamekeeper: They are bonny birds aren’t they.  But they have a tough life avoiding all those predators which might kill them.

Countryfile interviewer: Really? Not doing your job very well then are you? How many foxes do you kill here every year?

Gnarled gamekeeper: I’d rather not say, actually. It’s the type of thing we boast about amongst ourselves but don’t really want the public to know about.

Countryfile interviewer: Stoats? Weasels? Hooded Crows?

Gnarled gamekeeper: I’d rather not say actually. But our predator control keeps the wildlife in good heart – that’s why there are so many waders here.

Countryfile interviewer: Can you show me one now then?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Well, there don’t seem to be so many about just at the moment.

Countryfile interviewer:  And then if the Red Grouse avoid all the predators that don’t actually exist here because you’ve killed them off in traps and by lamping, you shoot them,  or sell shooting for money – is that right?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Yes, that’s right.

Countryfile interviewer: So you are protecting these birds from their natural predators (by killing the predators) just so that people can kill them for fun?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Aye – it’s the country way!

Countryfile interviewer: What are the worm and tick burdens like on your Red Grouse this year?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Look at that Meadow Pipit! Aren’t they grand birds. It does my heart good to see them there.

Countryfile interviewer: Are you doing any dosing?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Errr. Well we are providing medicated grit and we do cull lots of Mountain Hares even though there is little evidence that this will reduce tick burdens on Red Grouse.

Countryfile interviewer: Oh look, there’s a Mountain Hare over there.

Gnarled gamekeeper: Damn – there are always a few that get away.

Countryfile interviewer: We haven’t seen any birds of prey here yet. It looks ideal habitat for Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers but didn’t I read some government reports that said that they are persecuted on grouse moors?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Grouse moors provide ideal conditions for Hen Harriers to nest.

Countryfile interviewer: So how many do you have this year?

Gnarled gamekeeper: None this year – but they are lovely birds when you see them.

Countryfile interviewer: When was the last time they nested here.

Gnarled gamekeeper: Oh that would have been in the old keeper’s time – not since I’ve been in post. Not for the last 20 years.

Countryfile interviewer: But you don’t kill them do you?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Not at all, not at all. They are seen here most springs but they seem to just pass through…

Countryfile interviewer: How extraordinary!  You’d like a pair  or two would you?

Gnarled gamekeeper: Well it’s a question of balance really. We find the right balance is when there are no Hen Harriers here.

Countryfile interviewer: That’s a shame because down in England they keep talking about brood management and they can’t find any grouse moors who’d like some extra Hen Harriers so they might be looking to Scotland to take a few.

Gnarled gamekeeper: */K”^*&!!!

Countryfile interviewer: Oh look, there’s another Meadow Pipit. Not much else around is there? Next week we’ll be covering the wider environmental problems of the management of moorland for driven grouse shooting: increased carbon emissions, increased flood risk, increased water treatment costs, reduced aquatic biodiversity and loss of protected blanket bogs – in fact we might turn it into a series, So I’ll look forward to seeing you then and in the meantime you could show your support for this type of land use by signing this e-petition that seeks to ban it.


36 Replies to “The alternative Countryfile interview.”

  1. I got a phone call once from a Countryfile researcher asking about grouse moors when /i explained about harriers, peregrines and short eared owls or the lack of, the poor management practices etc they seemed to loose interest. I was told they would also be talking to Amanda Anderson for a less extreme view!
    As to harriers this year there are none nesting in Yorkshire, Lancashire or Durham. Poor years like this are why we really needed the chicks last year that those five disappeared males would have reared if persecution hadn’t interfered.

  2. Now there’s an interview it would be fun to watch….

    100 club update, and one you might have missed but at a time when the benefits of European cooperation are being greatly maligned…

    France has reached 101 signatures. Vive les expats.

  3. I saw the programme and it left me feeling vexed with the gullible interviewer – she completely skirted the subject of raptor (and other threats to the grouse) persecution. The super-smooth gamekeeper did a tremendous PR exercise on behalf of the hunting estates – encouraged by the BBC.
    Norrimpressed BBC – Country file in particular.

  4. I was shocked that the BBC would show such a biased piece, do they not know what’s happening on the Grouse Moors. It wouldn’t be difficult for their researchers to find out and present at least a More balanced view.
    I used to like Counteyfile but it seems to have become a mouthpiece for farmers, the rich and landed gentry. Disgusted by this item!

  5. The picked a low cloud day so no birds of prey would be seen,……they would not have to explain why no birds of prey on a clear day either!

  6. When does the BBC funding review reach fruition?

    Who makes the decision?

    Does he have strong environmental leanings?

    Balance in all things, of course.

  7. Just the Beeb doing what it does best. Who funds this rubbish….er, ah, that’ll be us then.
    Not suggesting that the produces and directors would get a free shoot out of it, but wouldn’t it be fun if you could prove…….?
    Anyway, 9 out of 10 viewers believe it so job done.

  8. Whilst it may just be the innocent soft focus of Countryfile, with the pressure the Conservatives and their supporters are putting on the BBC it is hard to completely dismiss the idea that this could well have been due to undue influence and if so it flags up the real danger to the environment and freedom of speech of the approach of the present Government, the right wing press and their supporters who make it all too clear that they would suppress the stories they don’t like if they could.

    1. Ditto, Pam. I stopped watching some time ago. The ethos of the programme seems to be the countryside as a money making opportunity and/or as a playground for bored suburbanites. So many important issues either only touched upon or skated over entirely.

  9. I have written to complain to the BBC twice now re. Countryfile asking when they are going to give a balanced argument , but with no success . I would encourage every one to bombard them with complaints , if they got 40,000 from the very people who fund them they would surely have to think twice before broadcasting such biased trash again.

    1. I agree with Coogan who says we need to bombard the BBC with complaints about Countryfile,. I have emailed them about the one-sided portrayal of wildlife on grouse moors. I don’t expect much of a response but if enough people object maybe they would take notice? Odious programme.

  10. I was emailing Tom Heap to complain of the pro GM bias in that same Countryfile. He advises the industry in gaining acceptance for GM. Something as far as I know he has never declared on that program. See

    I included a link to this post so that he at least knows that more and more people are seeing through the BBC bias.Planting (non GM) seeds as it were.

  11. I remember the piece they did on neonicitinoids. Very much in favour of the farmer using as much as possible. Trouble is theres a lot of the general public that watch it and treat it as gospel – especially the weekly weather forecast!!!

  12. Would be helpful if an independent film company could make a series of 1 hr programmes on such ecological/environmental scandals; lack of SSSI’s, Forestry Commission land use, Badger culling, Agri-incentive failure, Demise of stat bods, Nuclear, Offsetting, Planning, HS2, agri sprays etc etc. The BBC was long-lost in 2014. Countryvile forget it. Springwatch watered down. TV now like 1960s.

    1. Certainly needs to be more and better coverage than we’re getting now. I like the idea of a pro estate person and a bona fide conservationist filmed going to the same places at the same time being able to put forward their views, and support or have them torn to shreds with evidence or lack of it at the site, about what shooting actually does for wildlife, the land and rural communities. Eco restoration projects, nature reserves and of course shooting estates including ones like Coignafearn, Glenfeshie and Glen Tanar where they are genuinely making efforts to reconcile shooting with conservation (the usual suspects never seem to mention those). Such a programme would be genuinely balanced so fat chance it ever getting made. Mind you if you can imagine Bert Burnett or Tim Baynes ‘paired up’ with Roy Dennis or Chris Packham you can see where there would be definite entertainment value as well as objectivity! Couldn’t be worse than Countryfile, it’s so saccharine I have to sit with a sick bucket when it’s on.

  13. Welcome to the barren, treeless landscape with not much wildlife. Let’s keep it that way for grouse shooting, and lets set fire to it to maximise our profits.

  14. The Yorkshire Post (this weekend) are also making much of hunt saboteur turned master of a newly formed hunt.

    One might conclude all this is part of their attack further to the success of the epetition etc.?

    It would also seem likely that ‘they’ will continue this kind of approach, so we will need to counter such greenwash of those nice countryside activities.

  15. It says something about countryfile than in an episode where they had David most punchable face in Britain Cameron waffling on for ages about god knows what (I slammed the mute button for the sake of not punching my television screen) that this segment was still the most shameful and rage inducing part of the show.

  16. I’m surprised Naomi didn’t Have A Go at running around clubbing mountain hares to death with the RSPB’s antique truncheon

    1. The mountain hare clubbing is probably being kept back for the Countryfacile Christmas Special DVD.

  17. I was waiting throughout for the keeper with big drama to point in the sky and say ‘Look a bird of prey!’ which I’m sure he would have loved to have done if the opportunity presented itself, obviously it didn’t which is strange given all the assurances we’ve had from the Angus Glens that they are absolutely heaving with BOPs. Yes pretty pathetic – meadow pipits, a shot of red deer which I think was library footage, a grouse, a mountain hare..oh and a ring ouzel calling, maybe that was just an apprentice hiding in the heather with a special whistle we never actually saw it. Invermark is one of the less intensively managed estates and regularly held up as the example of how good they are for wildlife – which underlines how dire things are and show the oft regurgitated statement ‘they have more wildlife than RSPB reserves’ for the contemptuous lie it is.

    1. I don’t understand the ‘dislike’. Paul Lister is regenerating his land, planting native trees in the Highands, and is a rewilding advocate. What’s to dislike?

      1. Some of the biggest critics of Paul Lister have been the militants in the rambling hierarchy. Their main objection being his proposed fencing. Sometimes these people can’t see past the end of their twin walking poles.

  18. Hard to watch without grinding your teeth which isn’t good when you also find it so hideously emetic …..

  19. Smug ‘naturalist’ gamekeeper. What a load of b*ll*cks.

    Countryfile becomes increasingly more like Tory propaganda every week.

  20. The gamekeeper in the interview that was actually broadcast – as opposed to Mark’s imagined one- mentioned that he has sometimes seen hundreds of mountain hares. I was a bit surprised that he omitted to mention that they were in the back of a truck!

  21. I’ve written to the North Pennines AONB telling them I won’t be visiting and neither will I encourage anyone else I know to, until they address the issues with grouse shooting. I thought if it might affect potential money coming in to the area they might start to pay attention. Perhaps others might like to do the same?

    It’s remarkable but they’re promoting the area’s wildlife as a reason to visit and are proud of having “25,000” waders breeding there, though I’ve no idea where that number came from. Surely promoting wildlife in this area is false advertising?

    If no-one has seen these areas, I urge you to go – imagine the images of rain forest de-forestation you see on TV, only in England. Though be warned – it’s quite an upsetting spectacle. I know people like to go to the country for peace and quiet but in the north part of the AONB, it’s pretty much silent…

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